The Citadel of Light
The book contains what seems to be an epic poem. Despite being able to translate all the words with your magic, there are still various metaphors and figures of speech that escape you, but you think you get the gist of the tale. The unnamed narrator undertakes a journey, despite the advice of friends, to go to the Citadel of Light. His/her reasons for going are not entirely clear, but seem to relate to a vow or oath taken long ago in 'lost Saraknyal'. The friends warn that, if the destination is reached, the narrator will lose his/her soul, but this does not deter him/her. The journey is long and perilous. The hero, with only a faithful hound for company, passes out of familiar surroundings and into a wasteland. Many strange and terrible things are to be found there, including 'blind guards' (which seem to be eyeless warriors of some sort), twisted, tentacled trees (or tree-like creatures?) called 'hangmen' which attempt to grasp and strangle the traveller, and, most vividly, a sea of black ichor in which floats pieces of dead bodies, twisting and writhing in eternal suffering. As he/she gets closer to the elusive Citadel, the narrator begins to be confronted by visions of strange ghosts or figures of colour (the concept is somewhat awkwardly expressed, but you think that's what is meant) who flicker in and out of existence disconcertingly. The narrator and dog then pass into a netherworld of some sort, a grey and misty landscape, lacking even a discernable ground or sky. They are swept up in a strong wind, buffetted here and there, and the narrator begins to despair of being lost forever, but the faithful hound encourages him/her to go on (possibly through an empathic link of some sort, as it doesn't seem to be able to speak). Finally they come before a shimmering curtain, the light from which is strong enough to stun the narrator momentarily. With trepidation, he/she pushes through it, and finds him/herself in a strange city, full of colour and noise – the Citadel of Light. The poem's narrator emerges outside, because he/she is immediately confronted with lights, sounds etc. So the site described isn't in a building or underground (or at least, wasn't at that time... things can change, of course). It sounds like maybe an alley or small courtyard or something similar - a narrow space, bounded by walls or buildings. The narrator at one point does describe a structure with a gleaming dome and the ringing of bells (probably a temple), and also trees and greenery (possibly the Templewood in Rhenea?). The narrator is simultaneously enraptured and horrified by the place, and avoids contact with its inhabitants, fearing being corrupted (?) by them. At last it becomes dark – a strange phenomenon to the hero, apparently. The narrator wanders in the relative peace and quiet for a time, looking up at the distant specks of light that dot the sky, and admires their beauty, but then stumbles upon a high hill, blackened and bereft of all life, at the heart of the city. This apparently symbolizes the death and cruelty that the Citadel is built upon, and the narrator is horrified by it. He/she attempts to flee back to the shimmering curtain and escape, but is cornered by light-wielding attackers and beaten. He/she knows that his/her soul is being consumed. But the dog defends its master, and its bark sends the attackers running. It manages to drag its master back to the shimmering curtain and through to the relative safety of the other side. The poem ends with the narrator unable to return home, yet unwilling to return to the Citadel, simply wandering the grey mists with his/her hound forever.